Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill. hosts the next event for the 2014 Honda USAC National Midgets and the series championship could hang in the balance. It’s the 6th running of the “Gold Crown Midget Nationals” Thursday-Saturday.

The three-night extravaganza (Thursday-Saturday) will showcase the nation’s top Midget drivers battling for enhanced prize money, including Saturday night’s $10,000 first-place payout.

Rico Abreu of Rutherford, Calif. has been the driver to beat all year and has a 79-point lead over teammate and defending National champion Christopher Bell but more than 200 points are available at the Gold Crown.

Abreu, one of several drivers expected to do “double duty” at Granite City (the event also includes the MOWA 410 Winged Sprint Cars), has been nothing short of spectacular this season. He started the year with nine straight “podium” finishes and in 14 starts he has five wins, three seconds and four thirds as the anchor driver for the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian team.

Included in Abreu’s 2014 victories are the prestigious Belleville Midget Nationals in Kansas, a sweep in the “Kokomo Grand Prix” in Indiana and another triumph at Lawrenceburg, Ind. He and Bell will combine forces with teammate Tanner Thorson to give the Kunz/Curb-Agajanian team a formidable triple punch.

Chili Bowl champion Bryan Clauson also figures to be among pre-race favorites after his recent “4-Crown Nationals” win at Rossburg, Ohio.

Preliminary-night features are 25 laps each and Saturday night’s finale is a 40-lapper over the 3/8-mile dirt oval.

Darren Hagen (2010), Jerry Coons Jr. (2008) and defending champ Bell are former “Gold Crown” champs expected to vie for this year’s glory. Other “Gold Crown” champs include Kyle Larson (2012) and Levi Jones (2011).

The race marks the final Midwestern appearance of the Honda USAC National Midgets which travel to California for their finale at the “Turkey Night Grand Prix” at Perris Auto Speedway on Thanksgiving Night.

A great field of cars, sparked by no conflicting Midget events that weekend, is expected. In addition a kick-ball game, volleyball game for drivers and tug-of-war, also for competing drivers, is planned. Saturday’s feature will sport a minimum record 27-car field.

Drivers from across the nation will be competing, including a strong contingent of Illinois and Missouri drivers, including Zach Daum of nearby Pocahontas, Ill., who posted an impressive prelim victory at this year’s Belleville Midget Nationals.

Gates at Tri-City Speedway open at 5 pm each night after pit gates open at 3. General admission prices are $22 Thursday, $25 Friday and $28 Saturday. Pit passes are $35 each and kids 12 and under are $10 each.

HONDA USAC NATIONAL MIDGET POINTS: 1-Abreu-867, 2-Bell-788, 3-Hines-786, 4-Clauson-744, 5-Daum-663, 6-Windom-594, 7-Thorson-569, 8-Michael Pickens-499, 9-Darland-419, 10-Andrew Felker-378.